Guardian makes move to go beyond cost-per trading with ‘more transparent’ time-based buying

Economist ad on the Guardian

The Guardian is piloting a time-based display campaign in a move that could pave the way for advertisers to buy campaigns based on time rather than impressions in the future.

The publisher has partnered with creative media agency UM London to deliver the pilot campaign, which will feature an ad for the Economist and will deliver ads in time slots ranging from ten to 30 seconds. A call-to-action will direct readers towards a bespoke hub where readers can access Economist content and subscribe.

The display spot will allow advertisers to buy ad space across the Guardian’s digital properties in guaranteed time slots (GTS) and identify the most effective time length. The Guardian then claims it can guarantee the ads remain visible for the exact length of time they need to be effective, by using Web Spectator technology.

Neil Peace, digital strategy director, UM London said: "We’re moving to a place where we know exactly how much of an individual’s time we need in order to land our clients’ brand messages and deliver the best possible ROI.”

The campaign’s success will be measured by the time spent by readers on the ads, click through rates and ultimate conversions into subscriptions. The campaign will run until the end of September.

Last year the Guardian overhauled its site to focus on advertising opportunites based on time-based metrics, in an attempt to prove advertising effectiveness beyond clicks.

The pilot aims to “develop a more rounded and sophisticated solution around consumer attention” according to Guardian’s commercial director Nick Hewat, moving away from a ‘cost per something’ way of trading.

“The industry is demanding more transparency and proof that their ads are being effective. Time is one of the metrics we can use to measure attention, and is a key indicator that can be evaluated alongside other factors,” he added.

The Economist's audience development director Tom McCave said the trial with the Guardian's time-based display is part of its "test and learn strategy" as it develops its own digital marketing solutions.

"I am excited to see how targeted content ads shown to a receptive audience for the optimal amount of time will contribute to the success of this project," he added.

Last year the Economist launched a buying model 'Attention Buy', allowing advertisers to buy slices of user attention in-app and online for the first time.

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